Within the context of wider system performance, the HEA participates in a range of initiatives that target advancements in critical areas of Irish higher education research policy.

Irish Research e-Library Review

The Irish Research e-Library (IReL) is a higher education shared service that delivers access to over 30,000 electronic journals, databases and ebooks to staff and students in participating institutions. IReL is managed by the Irish University Libraries Collaboration Centre (IULCC) and is currently hosted by Maynooth University.

On the invitation of the Governance Committee of the IULCC, the HEA initiated a strategic review of IReL in 2018, which was overseen by an independent Steering Group. The review sought to: clarify the opportunities and challenges that face IReL; set out best practice in the provision of national research e-library services; and propose strategic options for the future. The review has now concluded and the Steering Group report was presented to key stakeholders at an event in the Royal Irish Academy in June 2019. The IULCC has considered the report and is working to begin implementation of the recommendations.

European Strategy Forum for Research Infrastructures (ESFRI)

The HEA is one of Ireland’s two national delegates (in partnership with Science Foundation Ireland) on ESFRI. The Forum supports a strategy-led approach to policy-making on research infrastructures in Europe.

Research Integrity Forum

The HEA participates actively in the National Research Integrity Forum which has been established to advance the implementation of the ‘Policy Statement on Ensuring Research Integrity in Ireland’. It is coordinated by the Irish Universities Association (IUA) and the Technological Higher Education Association (THEA). In 2022, the NRIF underwent a reconstruction into two divisions:

  1. A Steering Group where strategic issues related to Conduct of Research and Research Integrity are discussed among prominent stakeholders.
  2. A broad Community of Practice (CoP) for sharing information and good practice on training, policies and operational matters between the vast group of stakeholder organisations.

A key output of the NRIF is the Framework to Enhance Research Integrity in Research Collaborations which highlights the essential nature of collaboration in research integrity while emphasizing the roles and responsibilities of researchers and the importance of good practice in research.

European Innovation Scoreboard 2022

In September 2022, the European Commission published its annual European Innovation Scoreboard findings. The European Scoreboard 2022 showcased how Ireland had risen to the position of 6th most innovative country in the EU. Ireland was ranked as the highest Strong Innovator of the year, inching Ireland ever closer to the Impact 2030 target of becoming an Innovation Leader. Ireland had a performance at 118.9% of the EU average. Performance was above the average of the Strong Innovators (114.5%). Performance was increasing (7.1%-points) at a rate lower than that of the EU (9.9%-points). This trend highlighted Ireland’s performance lead over the EU was becoming smaller.

Strong increases since 2021

  • Sales of innovative products
  • Employment in innovative enterprises
  • Business process innovators


Strong decreases since 2021

  • Non-R&D Innovation expenditures
  • Enterprises providing ICT training
  • PCT patent applications



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